Fifth-Seeded Soccer Opens MAC Tourney at Kent State
MUNCIE, Ind. -- The Ball State soccer team will open the Mid-American Conference Tournament with a quarterfinal game Sunday at 1 p.m. at Kent State.
The Cardinals are the No. 5 seed in the tournament after finishing the regular season with a record of 8-6-5 (5-3-3 MAC), while the Golden Flashes are the No. 4 seed with a record of 12-4-2 (7-3-1 MAC). The game will be played at Kent State's Zoeller Field with live stats available at kentstatesports.com.
The Ball State-Kent State matchup is one of four games around the league on Sunday played at campus sites. The four winners will earn a spot in the semifinals next weekend to be played at the site of the highest remaining seed. The winner of the entire tournament receives the league's automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
Ball State is coming off a 1-1 draw on the road Thursday against MAC regular-season champion Miami University. The RedHawks were previously 10-0 in conference games and were playing for a perfect conference season. With the draw, Ball State secured a winning record for the first time since 2007.
Freshman Morgan Whitfield scored the Cardinals' goal against Miami, becoming the 12th Ball State player to find the back of the net this season. Sophomore forward Nicole Pembleton leads the Cardinals with four goals, while defenders Amanda Dreyfus and Pavla Benyrova are tied for the team lead in assists with three.
Senior goalkeeper Aubrey Buehler matched her season high with seven saves at Miami and was selected Friday as the MAC Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Buehler owns a 0.99 goals against average on the back end of an experienced Ball State defensive unit that has allowed opponents an average of fewer than five shots on goal per game.
Kent State enters tournament play with wins in six of its past seven games, including a 3-0 shutout of Ohio in Thursday's regular-season finale. The only loss during the past seven games for the Golden Flashes came Oct. 19 against Northern Illinois.
Jaclyn Dutton leads Kent State and all players in the MAC with 14 goals on the year, while teammate Stephanie Haugh has added six goals and handed out a team-high 10 assists. As a team, the Flashes rank second in the league with 1.94 goals per game.
Defensively, Kent State goalkeeper Stephanie Senn owns a goals against average of 0.77 and a save percentage of .800.
Ball State and Kent State met during the regular season on Sept. 28 with the Golden Flashes recording a 2-0 home victory on a pair of first-half goals from Dutton. Kent State owns a slim, 7-6-2 edge in 15 previous all-time meetings between the teams.
Ball State will be making its second straight MAC Tournament appearance and its 10th overall in the 14 years of the program. The Cardinals were the No. 6 seed in last year's tournament and lost in the quarterfinal round at third-seeded Western Michigan.